By Len Ramirez

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Bay Area construction workers are off their jobs because of a strict new shelter-in-place order that closed most construction sites.

Until now, most construction sites that were building some type of housing were allowed to stay open. But not anymore.

”We sent everybody home due to the coronavirus. We started shutting down yesterday, into today,” said Chris Hernandez, one of hundreds of constuction workers sent home from a highrise under construction near San Jose City Hall. “We’re just cleaning up and locking up and making everything safe before we leave.”

COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Hernandez says he will take a financial hit, but he’s not complaining.

”I feel it’s a good thing we should be home,” said Hernandez. “It hurts a little bit in the pocket book but in the long run, things will get better.”

Six Bay Area counties including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara, along with the city of Berkeley, announced that most construction will now be halted under a tightened, joint shelter-in-place order.

Among the few exceptions are projects necessary for essential infrastructure and proj ects associatedwith healthcare operations such as construction directly related to the COVID-19 response.

”Home remodeling? No. But construction related to building hospitals and health care facilities? Yes,” said District Attorney Jeff Rosen, who added the vast majority of all non-essential businesses and construction sites are already complying with the order.

But a handful of businesses are still not. Rosen says no one’s been cited yet, but several businesses have been warned.

”I don’t want to file misdemeanors against businesses, I don’t want to seek punitive damages against those individuals,” said Rosen. “But if a business does no voluntarily comply after it’s been asked by the district attorney’s office and local law enforcement, then we will file charges in order to shut those businesses down.”

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